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Posted November 9, 2011

Breaking Down Butler's Brad Stevens' Advanced Statistics

Indianapolis Star, David Woods|newswell|text|Sports|s

Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens studies advanced statistics to give his team an edge, similar to the Oakland Athletics and general manager Bill Beane as chronicled in the book and movie "Moneyball." Here are some examples:

» Old Dominion, the Bulldogs' March 17 opponent in the NCAA Tournament, led the nation by rebounding 45 percent of its own missed shots. Stevens called it as "staggering a number" as he had ever seen. Keeping Old Dominion off the boards became an emphasis for Butler, which led 32-29 in rebounding and won 60-58. "Butler cares about defensive rebounding," Houston Rockets executive Sam Hinkie said.

» Old Dominion guard Kent Bazemore drove to the right 75 percent of the time (even though he is left-handed), according to Synergy statistics. "If you say that somebody likes to go right, well, document that he likes to go right," Stevens said.

» In the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Butler players watched film of Syracuse guard Andy Rautins shoot open 3-pointers and vowed that he would not do so against them. Butler calculated that Rautins shot 80 percent of his attempts behind the arc and moved in one direction -- Stevens wouldn't say whether it was left or right -- 70 percent of the time. "That simple fact is hard to forget," Stevens said. After scoring 24 points in his previous game, Rautins had 14 as Butler upset the top-seeded Orange 63-59.

» For a poor offensive rebounding forward, Stevens said, "You're beating a dead horse if you say, 'Go to the glass, go to the glass.' " Instead, the coach said, show that he went to the boards three times out of 50. Either the forward is not in shape or not trying. "One more possession might mean winning the game," Stevens said.

» When players do conditioning drills in the fall, they are timed in four sprints. Stevens cares more about the difference between the first and fourth than in the average "because that shows how in shape you are," he said. Those who need more conditioning get that, and others concentrate on developing skills.

» Butler has 11 years' worth of data on what a typical All-Horizon League guard would score in conditioning tests. "So you try to motivate with those numbers," Stevens said.

» Matthew Graves, the Bulldogs' associate head coach, oversaw three years of workouts in which Matt Howard shot 25 to 50 3-pointers per session. It was all charted. "For two years, in individual workouts, we had the confidence and he had the confidence because we had the data to back that up," Graves said. Howard, who made five 3s in his first three years, sank 53 last season and shot 40 percent from the arc.


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